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What Does “Physician Retirement” Truly Mean?

What Does “Physician Retirement” Truly Mean?

*Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of articles from the Senior Physician Section. This first article is contributed by Jack Hasson, M.D., Senior Physician Representative.

Physicians do not retire. They may leave the practice of medicine, but they remain physicians throughout their entire life. It is their inner being…their soul.

Most of us enter our profession as a calling to care for people, and we develop skills that would allow us to help others, using those skills to make a better and healthier life for our patients.

Thus, physicians may leave the practice of medicine, but they never stop being physicians, because medicine is their life. There is then a subtle distinction between medicine as work, which may change over time including retirement, as opposed to medicine as a calling, and a compassionate drive to care for others that never leaves us.

This transition of our practice of medicine over time should be planned, but this is rarely done as we do with other things in our life such as planning for long-term financial security. Physicians have no guidelines for long-term practice security, and this issue needs to be addressed.

I will try through these publications to have senior physicians discuss their success in the continuation of the practice of medicine as they age. Through these different but in their own way successful transitions of the practice of medicine over time, younger physicians can begin to think about long-term planning for their continued enjoyment of their goal of serving patients throughout their lifetime.

My own story is about the practice of pulmonary and critical care medicine as I left my training, which was very demanding, including a demanding call schedule with late nights in the ICU. As a young physician, I didn’t miss a beat, balancing family, my running schedule, community service, and hospital committees and offices with no loss of energy or fatigue. It was not until I was in my 50s that I would tire more easily, especially after a long weekend call, and as with most of us, I didn’t want to admit I was aging. After all, I was still healthy and running marathons. In my 60s, I realized I could not sustain the pace of my practice and consider retirement, but I still felt healthy and still enjoyed the practice of medicine. I was fortunate in the ability to be able to make the transition to a pulmonary clinic practice with no hospital duties are night call and this was a game changer for me. I was young again and never fatigued, and was able to continue the practice and love of medicine, but with a pace, I could handle without tiring. I was lucky. This was not a planned move on my part but aging forced the issue.

I would recommend a career planning process for young physicians. They should make these plans just as they make financial plans for their future. Making transitions to different types of practice that will not stress or fatigue one as you age should be made earlier rather than late before burnout consumes a love of medicine that may not be rekindled. Looking back, I would have earlier in life planned my options for new careers in medicine that over time would be less stressful to me and more enjoyable as I aged. Ideally, a seamless transition to these less stressful options would be best.

I was once told by a physician that wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age shows up all by itself. Let’s hope without professional life choices, we show a little wisdom as we age, and choose a path that keeps us as practicing physicians in some capacity throughout our life.

For Medical Association members interested in more information about the Senior Physician Section, please contact Lori M. Quiller, APR.

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In Memoriam: Linda Harter Anz, M.D.

In Memoriam: Linda Harter Anz, M.D.

The Medical Association was deeply saddened by the passing of Dr. Linda Harter Anz on June 13. We share in the loss of this beloved physician as we mourn with her family, friends, colleagues and patients. Our thoughts and prayers are with those who knew Dr. Anz as she will be greatly missed.

Linda Harter Anz, MD was called to heaven peacefully from her home on Thursday, June 13, 2019, at the age of 70 years. Daughter of Louis and Don Harter, Wife to Bert Anz, MD, and Mother of three children: Lisa, Marq and Adam, whom all dearly loved her, and whom she dearly loved. She is grandmother of nine children. Our mother loved her Savior, her family, and others, all more than herself.

Her God given purpose on earth was to serve children through her profession as a pediatrician, which she did with all her heart. She served the local Auburn/Opelika Metropolitan Area for 39 years and truly reflected her Savior’s call to “serve rather than be served.” Matthew 19:26-28. She always placed others before herself, especially the children whom she cared for.

Her local colleague, Dr. Sara Smith T’s lovely words:

Her service was tireless, and her love for her work with children was obvious to all who worked with her. Her compassion for children and their families led her to advocate for them and serve in a unique way. Through the years, she was a wonderful consultant to her colleagues, and a shining smile on a daily basis. Her career was an inspiration to many, and she will be missed and remembered by the nursing staffs of the nursery, the pediatric unit at EAMC, and the Pediatric Clinic.

While practicing medicine full time and raising three children, she also served the agenda of children’s health, safety, and access to healthcare at the state and national level through the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

Her state colleague, Dr. Wes Stubblefield’s lovely words:

A tireless leader and advocate at the state Chapter and national level.

Dr. Anz served in numerous capacities within the leadership of the Alabama Chapter-AAP over the past 33 years, including CME Chair, CATCH Coordinator, Quality Improvement Chair, Women & Minority Committee Chair, and Chapter President from 1997 to 1999. She later became involved at the District level of the AAP as Chapter Forum Representative National Nominating Committee (Member and Chairperson) and Vice Chairperson. Most recently, she served as Chair of the AAP Committee on Membership.

In addition, she served on the Certifying Examination Committee of the American Board of Pediatrics, and was very involved in her county medical society and on hospital medical staff, and was a founding board member of her local child advocacy center.

Dr. Anz received an undergraduate degree from Duke University, her medical degree from the University of Louisville, and attained her general pediatric internship, residency, and fellowship in pediatric endocrinology from the University of Miami. Her previous awards include Children’s of Alabama’s Master Pediatrician Award in 1993 and the AAP’s award for outstanding service as Chapter Coordinator that same year.

She was the Chapter’s first recipient of the Chapter’s Carden Johnston Leadership Award in 2011, and in 2016, received the Medical Association of the State of Alabama’s Paul Burleson Award.

We will mostly miss her smile, infectious laugh, and passion for child health and the AAP.

The above accolades though pale in comparison to her love for our Lord Jesus and our love for her. She was a devoted member of Covenant Presbyterian Church where her passion for music was expressed by her singing in the choir. She was involved in small groups and loved time spent in fellowship. This loved spilled over into overseas medical missions work to Romania, Dominican Republic, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, serving children worldwide.

At home, she was a wonderful, loving mother who enjoyed gardening and caring for Orchids. Her rose garden of 34 years will remain and be tended by her children. Her love will prevail over our loss in our hearts.

Visitation was held from 12:00 noon until 1:45 p.m. Monday, June 17, 2019, at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Auburn, Alabama. Funeral service followed at 2:00 p.m. at the church, followed by a graveside service at Town Creek Cemetery in Auburn.

“Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, …. but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15

Frederick-Dean Funeral Home directed.

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Curry Named Local Governor of National Doctors’ Group

Curry Named Local Governor of National Doctors’ Group

BIRMINGHAM — William A. Curry, M.D., has been named governor of the Alabama Chapter of the American College of Physicians, the national organization of internists. Dr. Curry is a professor of medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and associate dean for Primary Care and Rural Health at the UAB School of Medicine.

The Board of Governors is an advisory board to the ACP Board of Regents, and implements national projects in addition to representing members at the national level. Dr. Curry’s term began during the Internal Medicine Meeting 2019, ACP’s annual scientific meeting held in Philadelphia from April 11-13.

A resident of Birmingham, Dr. Curry earned his medical degree from Vanderbilt University and became a master of ACP in 2017. Election to mastership recognizes outstanding and extraordinary career accomplishments.

Governors are elected by local ACP members and serve four-year terms. Working with a local council, they supervise ACP chapter activities, appoint members to local committees and preside at regional meetings. They also represent members by serving on the ACP Board of Governors.

Within the Alabama Chapter of ACP, Dr. Curry has served on the Chapter Council and Awards Committee, which he also chaired.

Dr. Curry is a past president of the Medical Association of the State of Alabama and has been a member of the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners and the Alabama State Committee of Public Health.

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Meet Our New Board Members

Meet Our New Board Members

Alexis T. Mason, M.D.
Secretary-Treasurer

Alexis T. Mason, M.D., is a native of Town Creek, Ala., and was elected Secretary-Treasurer during the Association’s Annual Meeting in April. It was a lawnmower accident when she was just 3 years old, which nearly took a limb and ended her life, that led her to her life’s calling of practicing medicine.

A graduate of Alabama A&M University, Dr. Mason went on to the Rural Medical Scholars Program at the University of Alabama where she received her Masters in Human and Environmental Science in 2008, which propelled her into the University of Alabama School of Medicine where she received her medical degree in 2012. She completed her residency at the University of Tennessee Family Medicine program in Jackson, Tenn., and her fellowship in Behavioral Medicine at the University of Alabama.

She is now practicing in Gordo, AL with Whatley Health Services as well as assisting with the SMART Clinic in Aliceville, Ala. After only two years in rural practice, she has become a favored preceptor for students entering the rural medicine pipeline and active in the AAFP.

 

Jane A. Weida, M.D., FAAFP
7th District Censor

Dr. Jane Weida is an associate professor in the Department of Family Medicine and associate director of the College’s Family Medicine Residency. She received her medical degree from Jefferson Medical College and completed her family medicine residency at Chestnut Hill Hospital in Philadelphia. After 13 years in private practice in Blue Bell, Pa., she spent six years as faculty at Penn State College of Medicine before joining an affiliated community-based family medicine residency in West Reading, Pa. There, she taught residents and medical students and served as the medical director, clerkship director and co-director of the residency’s Global Health Track.

Dr. Weida is active in several professional organizations. She is the immediate past president of the American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation, where she developed the organization’s signature humanitarian program in Haiti. She is committed to residency education, medical student interest in family medicine, and global health and has traveled extensively to provide family medicine education in Haiti and many former Soviet Republics in Asia and Europe.

 

Jay Suggs, M.D.
Place No. 5 Representative

When Alabama native, W. Jay Suggs, M.D., FACS, FASMBS, returned home after his general surgery training at the Mayo Clinic and bariatric surgery fellowship at Princeton, NJ, he started his first bariatric surgery Center of Excellence in Decatur. He also practices in Huntsville and Madison. Dr. Suggs is a board-certified surgeon and is also a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and a fellow of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. He has degrees in Biology and Chemistry from Emory University and his medical degree from UAB. Dr. Suggs, together with his wife and three daughters, live in Decatur where they are an active part of their community.

Dr. Suggs has special interests in medical education and research, serving as an associate professor of surgery at the UAB Huntsville Regional Campus, as well as the director for the Huntsville campus of the ACOM and VCOM-Auburn medical schools. He has been involved in the leadership of multiple professional organizations and hospitals.

 

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Centreville Physician Named President of the Medical Association

Centreville Physician Named President of the Medical Association

BIRMINGHAM – Long-time Centreville physician, John S. Meigs Jr., M.D., was named president of the Medical Association of the State of Alabama during the Association’s Annual Meeting and Business Session last week. Dr. Meigs also serves on the board for the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners.

“The Association welcomes Dr. Meigs’ continued service on the Board of Censors as president,” Executive Director Mark Jackson said. “His medical experience, as well as his civic-mindedness and sense of compassion brings a strong perspective to the Board. It is a genuine pleasure to work with such a leader in the medical community.”

Dr. Meigs received his medical degree from the University of South Alabama and completed his internship and residency in family medicine with UAB/Selma Family Practice Residency Program.

He is a Diplomate with the American Board of Family Medicine. He is also a past president and former board chair of the Alabama Academy of Family Physicians; a Fellow, former Speaker, a past president and immediate past board chair with the American Academy of Family Physicians, and member of the American Medical Association. With the Medical Association, Dr. Meigs has served as a Delegate, Counselor, Life Counselor, Speaker of the House of Delegates, Board of Censors and on numerous committees. From 2009 to 2018 he served on the State Committee of Public Health and was their Chair his last four years.

In 2014, Dr. Meigs received the high honor of being elected to the Alabama Healthcare Hall of Fame, which recognizes those persons who have made outstanding contributions to or rendered exemplary service for health care in the State of Alabama.

Dedicated to giving back to his community, Dr. Meigs has served as a clinical professor at The University of Alabama College of Community and Health Science and a clinical professor at the University of Alabama-Birmingham School of Medicine. He is currently a member of the clinical faculty of the Cahaba Family Medicine Residency Program in Centreville. Additionally, he was named 2004 Bibb County Citizen of the Year by the Kiwanis Club. He has also served as President of Distinguished Young Women of Bibb County and is an active member of Brent Baptist Church where he serves as Moderator and as a deacon.

Dr. Meigs has been a member of the Bibb County Medical Society and the Medical Association since 1982.  He has been on the active medical staff of Bibb Medical Center since 1982.  His practice of Family Medicine continues with Bibb Medical Associates in Centreville.

 

Meet the 2019-2020 Board Officers and Board of Censors

  • John S. Meigs, Jr., M.D., President
  • Aruna Thotakura Arora, M.D., President-Elect
  • Jefferson Underwood, III, M.D., Immediate Past President
  • Amanda Williams, M.D., Vice President
  • Alexis T. Mason, M.D., Secretary-Treasurer
  • Julia L. Boothe, M.D., Speaker
  • Thomas James Weida, M.D., Vice-Speaker
  • Mark H. LeQuire, M.D., Board Chairman, At-Large Place No. 1
  • Michael T. Flanagan, M.D., Board Vice Chairman, 2nd District Censor
  • Max Rogers, M.D., 1st District Censor
  • Gary F. Leung, M.D., 3rd District Censor
  • Dick Owens, M.D., 4th District Censor
  • Patrick J. O’Neill, M.D., 5th District Censor
  • Eli L. Brown, M.D., 6th District Censor
  • Jane A. Weida, M.D., FAAFP, 7th District Censor
  • Beverly F. Jordan, M.D., At-Large Place No. 2
  • Hernando D. Carter, M.D., At-Large Place No. 3
  • Gregory Wayne Ayers, M.D., At-Large Place No. 4
  • William Jay Suggs, At-Large Place No. 5

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Underwood Minority Scholarship Award Announced

Underwood Minority Scholarship Award Announced

MONTGOMERY — The Underwood Minority Scholarship Award was officially announced during the Association’s 2019 Annual Meeting and Business Session. Named for long-time Montgomery physician and the Medical Association’s 152nd President Jefferson Underwood III, M.D., the Underwood Minority Scholarship Award is for African-American individuals underrepresented in Alabama’s medical schools and the state’s physician workforce.

Dr. Underwood became the first African-American male to serve as President of the Association in 2018-2019. He previously served the Association as President-Elect, Secretary-Treasurer and Vice President. He is also a member of the Montgomery County Medical Society, in which he also served on the Board of Trustees and as President.

  • Applicants must be African American.
  • Students already attending medical and osteopathic school or who have been accepted are eligible.
  • One scholarship will be awarded annually.
  • Fundraising efforts will be the responsibility of the Medical Foundation of Alabama
  • The scholarship presentation will take place at the Medical Association’s Annual Meeting.
  • The Board of Medical Scholarship Awards will make recommendations to the Medical Association for potential recipients.
  • 2020 scholarship applications will become available in Fall 2019.

For more information, contact Mark Jackson at mjackson@alamedical.org.

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Could Employee Engagement be a Cultural Decision?

Could Employee Engagement be a Cultural Decision?

As the Baby Boomers retire and Millennials join the workforce, managers find themselves with a new challenge in engaging the staff. The baby boomers did not mind following strict rules, nor did they require a daily pat on the back. Most employees need more than just a task list. They need to feel valued, informed and engaged. Physician leaders and administrators can engage the staff more effectively if they are modeling a positive culture based on a mission statement, values and communicating goals. Behavior modeling creates a sense of trust and engagement in the staff that improves morale and retention. High turnover in a medical practice is stressful for everyone; the remaining staff must take on more work and re-train staff over, and over again. High staff turnover is costly – the time to interview, onboard staff and train staff reduces productivity, and it is a definite sign there is something wrong at the leadership level.

Most physicians are experiencing “burnout” due to challenges in health care and increasing patient volume. In past years, a group practice was led by a physician who was interested in the business of medicine; the others in the group simply supported the ideals of the lead physician. Physician and administrator relationships are the basis for building a positive culture. The physicians and the administrator should meet often. All physicians should be involved in business decisions and develop leadership styles to enhance a positive culture. New physicians have skills in technical aspects of practice management and can serve as a champion to guide new projects. An administrator skilled in communication and empowerment can engage staff and grow leaders. Practice administrators learn what motivates each employee, and they can influence the entire team by assuring conflict is avoided or resolved. An effective administrator assures the office is running smoothly and leads by example. The administrator is a coach in every sense; he or she impacts the physician leaders, the staff and the patients. An effective administrator seeks opportunities to build morale by celebrating work milestones, birthdays, or even organizing a company picnic.

Engaged employees contribute to the organization’s effectiveness. An engaged employee feels passionate about the job and is loyal to the practice. If an employee is emotionally committed to the practice, he or she is more committed to the goals of the practice. A workplace that encourages idea sharing and personal value will give leaders and employees a sense of purpose and belonging, which leads to empowerment. An engaged employee will be an advocate for the practice, they speak positively about their work and encourage others to be a part of the organization. As we invest in our employees and overall culture, we raise the level of expertise and strength. As the team grows stronger, the projects are successful and seamless because the administrator and the physicians can work at a higher level.

A positive culture shows in every aspect of the practice; the efficiency and cheerfulness of the staff and the overall experience of the patient. I spoke recently during a group staff meeting on patient satisfaction. We discussed body language, a patient can detect when a staff member does not care or is not happy with their job. The patient experience relies upon an engaged staff member. We discussed companies who have an exceptionally positive culture that is ‘’caught” not “taught.” A positive culture starts at the top and trickles down to everyone!

Article contributed by Tammie Lunceford, Healthcare and Dental Consultant, Warren Averett Healthcare Consulting Group. Warren Averett is an official Gold Partner with the Medical Association.

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Caring for Alabama: Celebrating the Fourth Annual Doctors’ Day in Alabama

Caring for Alabama: Celebrating the Fourth Annual Doctors’ Day in Alabama

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – On Wednesday, March 27, Gov. Kay Ivey signed a proclamation declaring March 30, 2019, the Fourth Annual Doctors’ Day in Alabama. Doctors’ Day in Alabama formally recognizes Alabama’s nearly 17,000 licensed physicians serving millions of residents through private practice, in hospitals, in research, and in other health care facilities while performing their roles as military service members, parents, volunteers, and community activists.

Doctors’ Day in Alabama, a project sponsored by the Medical Association of the State of Alabama, the Alabama Department of Public Health and the Alabama Hospital Association will be held in conjunction with the 86th Anniversary of National Doctors’ Day to celebrate physicians of all specialties serving in our communities.

“The practice of medicine is a special calling,” said Mark Jackson, executive director of the Medical Association. “Physicians study and train for many years, work long and unpredictable hours, and cope with often conflicting demands of work and family life to serve the needs of their communities. They often lead patients and families through some of life’s most challenging moments,” Jackson said. “While they deserve appreciation every day, we wanted to have one day to show deep gratitude to our physicians for the work they do each day to make the health of our residents and our state better.”

While first contributing to the overall health of their patients through healing, Alabama’s physicians also contribute to the overall health of the state through economic factors. According to a study by the American Medical Association, each Alabama physician supports an average of 11.7 jobs – contributing to 101,770 jobs statewide – for an average of $1.9 million in positive economic input and a total of $16.7 billion in economic impact statewide.

“Alabama’s hospitals are honored to partner with dedicated physicians who provide strong and essential leadership in hospitals to assure patients receive high-quality care,” said Donald E. Williamson, M.D., president of the Alabama Hospital Association. “These men and women are committed to practicing the latest evidence-based care to deliver the best possible outcomes for patients. We are delighted to celebrate them on Doctor’s Day.”

For more information about Doctors’ Day in Alabama, contact Lori M. Quiller, APR, at (334) 538-0235, (334) 954-2580 or lquiller@alamedical.org.

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VCOM-Auburn Provides Care and Supplies to Lee County Tornado Victims

VCOM-Auburn Provides Care and Supplies to Lee County Tornado Victims

BEAUREGARD – Faculty, students and staff at the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine Auburn campus have been working to provide free medical care and supplies to neighboring Beauregard, Alabama area tornado victims. Following the devastating tornado outbreak on Sunday, March 3, VCOM-Auburn administrators worked quickly with community partners to devise a plan to try to assist storm victims. A supply drive was held, which saw donations of bottled water, sports drinks, personal care items, baby care supplies, non-perishable food, first-aid supplies and more.

“What VCOM is doing for the local community is exactly what we strive to do as future physicians — giving our time and knowledge for those in need,” said Tram-Anh Huynh, a second-year student at VCOM-Auburn. “I am really proud to be part of a community that jumped in without hesitation to help the Lee County tornado victims.”

On Monday morning, a tent was erected at Beauregard Drugs and Dr. Martin Roach’s Beauregard Clinic to provide free-of-charge, non-life-threatening medical care to storm victims and rescue and recovery personnel. A pull-type RV trailer was loaned to the effort, which has offered welcome shelter from the cold wind and a place to store relief supplies for distribution. Physicians and students from VCOM have staffed the tent each day from morning until evening.

On Wednesday, March 6, Piedmont Columbus Regional Hospital joined the effort by arriving on scene with a mobile triage unit. This unit, essentially an RV-type vehicle, offers two patient care rooms in a spacious, climate-controlled environment. Medical professionals from Piedmont Columbus Regional have committed to be on site at least through the weekend.

“We are extremely grateful for the cooperation and partnership with Beauregard Drugs, Beauregard Medical Clinic, the Piedmont Columbus Regional mobile unit and Providence Baptist Church,” said J.J. White, D.O., PhD, VCOM-Auburn’s associate dean for simulation and technology, discipline chair for emergency medicine and the College’s disaster response leader for this effort. “We are amazed by the outpouring of support by the entire community and hope to be flexible, adaptable and productive with our relief efforts.”

On Thursday, March 7, the Piedmont Columbus Regional mobile unit, along with the VCOM relief tent and trailer, moved 1.5 miles to Providence Baptist Church at the request of the incident commander. This new location has become the focus of the volunteer efforts for the community. VCOM physicians and students plan to remain at this new location through the weekend.

“Our involvement with relief efforts began the night of the storms treating patients in the emergency department at East Alabama Medical Center,” said VCOM-Auburn fourth-year student Gunnar Magnuson. “Consistently, we have been very encouraged at the overwhelming number of individuals and local health institutions like VCOM-Auburn and its partners looking to help their neighbors in any way they can.”

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In Memoriam: John Higginbotham, M.D.

In Memoriam: John Higginbotham, M.D.

John Higginbotham, M.D., a longtime member of the Medical Association and Madison County Medical Society, passed away earlier this week. Dr. Higginbotham was a retired orthopaedic surgeon and who was instrumental in the formation of the North Alabama Medical Reserve Corps. In 2014 he received the Association’s highest award, the Samuel Buford Word Award, which is given in recognition of service to humanity beyond the usual scope of medical practice and often rendered at some personal sacrifice.

He served as medical director of the Metropolitan Medical Response System and as county disaster liaison for the Madison County Medical Society (MCMS) and was a member of the Alabama Department of Public Health’s Advisory Council on Emergency Preparedness. Despite retirement, Dr. Higginbotham continued to serve on the boards of MCMS and NAMRC.

Dr. Higginbotham was 75 when he died Tuesday. A celebration of his life will be held Saturday from 4-8 p.m. at Laughlin Service Funeral Home in Huntsville and March 15 at 11 a.m. at the Episcopal Church of the Epiphany in Guntersville.

Surgeon and Christmas Star: Remembering Dr. John Higginbotham

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